IT Roles Facing Extinction

For years IT understood itself as strictly a support service that responds to, instead of enacts, innovative change. In the future, IT leaders will face a host of multi-dimensional challenges as global business increases in technological complexity. Some of the challenges include harnessing mobilization and employees’ use of social media for business, developing both employee- and customer-facing business applications, streamlined analysis of big data, increased adoption of virtualized servers and storage, and streamlining cloud support, to name a few.

A number of analysts believe that the nut-and-bolts programming and easy to document support jobs will go to third-party providers outside the U.S. In its wake will be a need for IT workers with versatile skill sets not normally found within IT. Abilities such as project management (for intricate, multi-tiered IT projects), public speaking (for interfacing both with corporate business and clients), and mathematical expertise (for engineering and development tasks) are just some of the IT skills that will be in demand in the near future.

It will not only be a diversity of necessary skills, but where those skills can be used that will be crucial. For example, application development skills will be instrumental for those working in the service provider sector, software development area, or on IT teams within large or small organizations.

It’s safe to bet that the pure technology positions will steadily diversify as complexity within the datacenter increases. This will include roles such as business-enterprise architects, business technologists, systems analysts, network designers, systems auditing, and project managers, including more rounded skills that expand knowledge bases and challenge traditional IT comfort zones.

The following are some of the key areas where traditional IT administration skill requirements will be changing and where some skills will become obsolete.

I. Programming

While coding and basic programming will be outsourced beyond the U.S., essentially for software that can run only on the PC, mobile programming is poised to take huge strides. This includes writing code specific to the operating systems for Android, Apple, and Windows Phone 7, among others. This means traditional programming languages, such as Cobol, Delphi/Object Pascal, and Transact-SQL ColdFusion, are examples of older languages being phased out. Even tried-and-true Flash development is being eliminated. Taking their place, skills in languages such as the following will be increasingly in demand:, Python, Ruby, HTML5, RESTful Web Services, Javascript, and JQuery.

II. Datacenter

In terms of basic networking, a number of traditional IT operations will be superseded by higher-level skills or eliminated altogether. Typical network administrator tasks such as wiring and coupling blade servers, updating and installing patches, or provisioning storage will be outmoded skills due to new advancements that are already taking place. These include cloud sourcing for additional CPU power and storage allocation. Server and desktop virtualization will reduce the need for multiple administrators because automation and centralized management will enable a single individual to handle the tasks. This has already begun taking place, but we will see it occur on a much greater level as these processes take a firmer hold in every datacenter.

In the area of communications, the consolidation trend continues. Instead of traditional telephony, Unified Communications (UC) represents a paradigm shift similar to what’s occurring in other technologies. UC combines presence, VoIP, IM, email, and conferencing into a single comprehensive service. Gone are the service technicians responsible for rewiring and maintenance. UC makes those skills unnecessary. In the future, one or two systems analysts will centrally handle communication implementation and flow from within the datacenter.

III. Data Technology

The exponential increase in data in the future has often been commented on. With the rise in mobilization, and all its attending media features, we will not only be producing more data, but companies’ demand for that data will increase as well. Business success will hinge on an organization’s ability to make sense of their accrued data and using it to achieve key strategic goals. With that will be the need for analysts who can identify and predict trends ahead of the competition as well as defining what data is needed and where to get it. This is just one example of technical capabilities being combined with business savvy and know-how to produce actionable results. Gone are the SQL database administrative duties. The ability to blend the unstructured (big data) with the structured (business interests) represents a unique skill set that illustrates that convergence of abilities that will be in greater demand.

An IT professional who has the technology background to offer abstract skills (math, engineering) as well as an ability to interact effectively with the business and service sector (public speaking, interpersonal skills) combined with the intangible (imaging and visualization, imagination) represents key attributes for the successful data technologist. These technicians can build meaningful, structured results out of often incoherent piles of data.

IV. Security

The 24/7 business cycle requires company infrastructures to always be up. Losing a day in transactions due to a security breach can be substantial in dollars, not just in the loss of credibility. Add to the mix the increase in mobile workers accessing company networks and the increase in the number of surface vectors has serious repercussions. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, malware run amok (Stuxnet, Flame), and cyber criminal concerns require the right security infrastructure architects to build alerting technologies, in-line defense tools, and systems designs that can repel such attacks. A number of companies will resort to third-party security providers as well as rely on cloud-based security services.

While security management skills will become increasingly important, these providers of cloud-based SaaS services will inherently provide efficient protection features, and mobile platforms will also offer better security. Within organizations, gone are the traditional back-up and recovery skill sets which will be relegated to third-party providers. According to David Foote, president and CEO of research firm Foote Partners LLC., “Securing information.will change in 2020, when companies will cast an even wider net over data security-including the data center, Internet connectivity, and remote access.”

Gone are the technicians who relied on security standardization, procedures, and auditing. Moving forward, security will be less about constructing layers of standardized controls within the perimeter. It will demand a careful, nuanced approach and smart solutions. New skills include those such as virtualization technologies, centralized managing capabilities via maturing dashboard tools, data mining, and the ability to implement management tools in a company’s public or private cloud.

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  1. traver rice Reply

    The role of IT Pro will only expand not diminish in the years to come: most US companies will find the ideal of having their customized programs and apps being coded outside of the US foolish at best: what better way to manipulate the US economy than by inserting encoded sleeper apps within the encoded code performed by some Asian hack who can only write code that has already been formatted by someone else? Most of the self-diagnosing software, majority Microsoft designed and/or licensed out, is constantly being super-ceded by similar, less intricate problem solving apps peppered about in Windows 7, and no doubt, 8: Microsoft is obviously a proponent of the adage, “there is safety in numbers”; but, spreading the self-recognition, mr fix it applications on every operating system block creates constant internal coding conflicts, with each associated diagnostic constantly in conflict with other versions of itself on different tree pathways?
    I got tired of the constant stalemate and crashing due to tasking priority issues, that I had to filter most of the other diagnostic applications out and remove them forever. However, it is impossible to eliminate them all because Microsoft incorporates them in the updates that most users have on automatic to the delight and slobbering of Microsoft techs. Microsoft, like previous monolithic profit oriented companies, is still dazzled by its own trademark and Bill Gates tunnel-visioned vision, that they lost sight of recruiting another Paul Allen to turn Gates bug infested operating systems into we coded the bugs into the registry intentionally. Microsoft is a much bigger Nokia now, re-releasing more aesthetically pleasing operating systems that in any form is still Windows XP in drag. ) Most companies kept Windows XP as a result: why incur more expense for essentially the same shit?
    Cloud computing offers companies access to Microsoft resources and design simulators, which initially appeals to companies seeking immediate expense reduction to increase profit margins but what they don’t see lurking behind each pay-as-you-go service they use: is that they are just borrowing Microsoft’s facilities, which at the end of the business quarter are still owned, monitored, and protected by the self-same company that convinced Novell to send over their programmers so they could clone WordPerfect under the false pretense of working together to ensure WordPerfect and their new version of Windows were made compatible. No more WordPerfect?
    Microsoft decided some time ago to shift their hiring protocols: if they couldn’t recruit a genius, they would just become his best buddy, Microsoft Partnering, technet etc.. Microsoft should stop doing the business buddy routine: it rings hollow when Bill Gates is a retired multi-billionaire? Ok, he gives away some of it; but, not enough to make his kids and grandchildren cringe. Microsoft wanted to share with Novel at first, then they couldn’t resist making even more money and, essentially overnight, WordPerfect, became too damn long to pronounce: how about like a first name: Word. The need to be perfect has no chance against the desire to be powerful, rich, and suddenly being wealthy gained equal footing with being intelligent? Wealth is mere accumulation with a lot of guards to help you count. Microsoft is sharing their resources, their technology, but the wise company CEO’s are aware that Microsoft’s main goal is to have first dibs at all creative projects designed, tested, and then poof: Microsoft introduces an exact duplicate almost some time later… No guessing involved. Well, I know most humans cannot concentrate for too long so I will sign off here–Traver Rice IT Pro’s will only decrease in demand when an AI becomes the CPU, and then you have a real traffic cop to process the overflow.

  2. nc Reply

    You wrote:
    Gone are the technicians who relied on security standardization, procedures, and auditing. Moving forward, security will be less about constructing layers of standardized controls within the perimeter. It will demand a careful, nuanced approach and smart solutions. New skills include those such as virtualization technologies, centralized managing capabilities via maturing dashboard tools, data mining, and the ability to implement management tools in a company’s public or private cloud.

    So all these new smart solutions, visualizations,etc etc that you talk about, where do you think the actual data will reside, in thin air? Mind you the cloud does not mean literal CLOUD, virtualization is virtual only to the end user; there is some hardware in the back-end. Remember even the network infrastructure and its dependencies that make it possible for the Internet and cloud competing possible will still be an IT facing role. Question- Did you actually think enough about all that goes into virtualization and cloud computing before writing this piece.

    NOTE: Behind every Amazon are huge physical warehouses full of the goods you don’t see. In the same manner behind every cloud/virtualization technology there will be IT facing roles to make accessibility possible to the masses. NO STAR TREK stuff here pal.

  3. R. Lawson Reply

    I agree with many of the items on your “hit list”, however there are a couple I don’t agree with.

    For one, Transact SQL (and related paradigms). Data is becoming more important, not less. It is true that we leverage Entity Framework and similar technologies on the application layer, but when it comes to complex business(/data) logic, ETL processes, and addressing scalability issues in SQL I don’t see that technology being used less.

    I agree that the physical location of the server may change (the cloud) but data skills aren’t going away. As far as RESTful services – yes great mobile technology. There will be plenty of mobile work no doubt. But REST is not secure, not fast, and often not the right choice. It will be blamed in years to come for hacks, stolen data, and many other things because people aren’t implementing securely. It’s a gret technology, but our implementation of it is immature to say the least.

    Finally, and not to get too political, but one factor that makes offshoring cheap are the H-1b and L-1 visas. Of the 65,000 cap 42,501 of them went to 12 offshoring companies. Legislation may expand the program, but it will also more than likely exclude most offshoring and outplacement of workers. What this means is that it will get more expensive to offshore work because these companies need costlier locals to be their feet on the ground here. That opens up opportunities for other local businesses to compete for work now going offshore.

    The factors are complex, but I believe that offshoring is peaking out and will stabilize and perhaps fall – especially given the increased awareness around security.